eMedia’s TV channels to remain on DStv for now as Competition Tribunal extends interim relief

MultiChoice and eMedia are at loggerheads. Picture: Karen Sandison/Independent Newspapers

MultiChoice and eMedia are at loggerheads. Picture: Karen Sandison/Independent Newspapers

Published Dec 18, 2023


The Competition Tribunal on Monday said it had granted an application by eMedia Investments to extend an interim relief order against MultiChoice, meaning that eMedia’s television channels - E.tv Extra, eToonz, eMovies and eMovies Extra - are to remain on DStv for now.

DStv, the broadcast satellite platform, is owned by JSE-listed MultiChoice.

The Tribunal said its reasons for its decision would be issued in due course.

The interim relief - granted by the Competition Appeal Court on August 1, 2022, following an appeal against the Tribunal’s decision not to grant interim relief - interdicts MultiChoice from removing the four eMedia channels from the DStv bouquets, which they form part of.

The interim order was first extended by the Tribunal, by agreement between eMedia and MultiChoice, until July 31, 2023.

The Tribunal’s order further extends the interim relief for a period of six months from today or pending the conclusion of a hearing into the complaint referral filed by eMedia with the Tribunal, whichever occurs first. MultiChoice opposed the extension application.

The Competition Tribunal gave a background outline to the case:

MultiChoice had, since 2017, acquired, marketed and distributed the four eMedia channels on DStv in terms of an agreement which commenced in March 2017 and ended in March 2022.

According to MultiChoice, it had decided not to renew the channels for commercial reasons.

However, eMedia argued that MultiChoice’s refusal to carry the channels amounted to an abuse of dominance in contravention of the Competition Act.

The Commission had non-referred the complaint. eMedia subsequently self-referred the matter to the Tribunal. The hearing of the matter is to take place in August 2024.

MultiChoice and eMedia’s relationship has deteriorated.

In October eMedia lodged a case against MultiChoice at the Competition Commission in a fight over Rugby Word Cup TV rights.

MultiChoice tightens its operations

In November the Pan African entertainment group MultiChoice Group said its headline loss per share slid to 289 cents (-58 cents) in the six months to September 30 following R1.7 billion of foreign exchange headwinds, Showmax trading losses and a lower contribution from South Africa.

Business Report reported at that time CEO Calvo Mawela saying the second half would be an important period in their journey to expand their ecosystem beyond Africa’s leading linear pay-TV operator into a broader ecosystem of interactive entertainment and consumer services.

“The focus remains on driving further efficiencies in operating expenditure, as well as working capital and capex decisions, to ensure consistent and optimal returns on all capital deployed,” the group said in its interims.